Managing a Field Service Business

What is a Field Service Business?

A field service business is a company providing services that are performed on the customer site.

AC repair, plumbing, carpet cleaning, pest control, landscaping, maid services and home security dealerships are all examples of field service companies.

These companies typically use this business model (flow):

Sell ​​=> Service => Charge

Sell : The sale starts by generating a lead from Internet marketing, advertising in printed media, flyers, sales reps, or any other means and ends by contracting with the customer.

Service : A field-worker goes to the customer site to perform the service.

Charge : The price of the service is collected typically from the customer, but sometimes from a third party like an insurance company.

The rest of this article explains what managing a field service business involves.

Saving Customers Information

Field service companies often perform more than one service for the same customer. And customers expect you to remember the information they provided last time they did business with you. Asking for the same information over and over again makes you look unorganized and causes the customer to loose confidence.

Also you can use your customers database to generate new and repeat sales. The information you know about the customer will help you determine what other services he / she might be interested in. Plus, if you are a good business, these old customers already trust you and love your services. So selling to them is much easier than finding and building trust with new customers.

Your customers database will typically contain very sensitive information, such as payment accounts and social security numbers. Controlling access to your records is important. Your workers should be able to access the information they need, but ONLY the information they need. Not all information need to be available to everyone at the company. Implementing this access control is almost impossible without the use of software.

Scheduling Services

In most field service companies, service scheduling is done by the secretary while he / she is with the customer on the phone. So it needs to be done fast. Typically the secretary needs to see the field-worker / technician schedules side-by-side to find an available time slot that works for the customer.

Another thing that is closely related to scheduling is notifying field-workers / technicians about jobs assigned to them. This can be done manually or automatically by the software used for scheduling.

Inventory Management

What is special about inventory management for field service companies is that inventory is not only stored in warehouses, but it is also carried by field-workers in their trucks. It is inefficient for field-workers to do an inventory pick up before each job, so they usually pick up enough inventory to last them for several days / weeks. This inventory carried by field-workers is a significant business asset that needs to be tracked to control theft and waste.



Source by [lakajira]

Business Phone Service Considerations: Do You Need VOIP?

At some stage, your small business will have to consider voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) if it has plans to expand. It is offered by virtually every business phone service provider and allows you to make calls over an Internet connection thus saving you a small fortune depending on your usage. It is also possible to connect a traditional handset to VOIP which enhances the voice quality, essential for companies that have a less than reliable broadband connection.

However, it is not simply a case of switching to VOIP without due consideration. As it is Internet dependent, you need to consider ways to deal with any breakdowns that occur and an uninterrupted power source is an excellent purchase in this regard. Broadband speed increase and fiber optics improvements means that VOIP should run smoothly but this does not mean that certain considerations can be neglected. Here are a few things to look at when deciding to upgrade to VOIP with a business phone service provider.

Fees & Benefits
As you can imagine, the popularity of VOIP means that a host of companies are offering the service. Your job is to analyze the fees associated with the service and weigh them against the perceived benefits. Failure to adequately ascertain a cost vs. quality equation is a huge mistake yet it is commonly made by businesses of all sizes. Just because a VOIP system is expensive and appears to offer a multitude of features doesn't mean it provides you with everything your company needs. Signing any contract before making this consideration will doom your company to a high-priced system that does not fulfill your requirements. It may then be necessary to purchase another system at extra cost.

Training
VOIP is relatively simple to use but as it is still fairly new, it makes sense to brief staff and clients about it in order to make the most of the technology. The best business phone service providers may offer to train your staff in the usage of the VOIP system. Implementing a VOIP system without the requisite training is asking for trouble as staff could make errors that lead to a loss of business.

Ensuring Need
What are the needs of your business? Does it actually require a VOIP system at this moment in time? If your enterprise currently consists of a handful of employees and a small office, it may not be prudent to add a new system. On the other hand, you will probably need a VOIP system if your company has 50+ employees or else you envisage it growing to such a level in the near future. Signing up for a VOIP package without making sure it can immediately make a positive difference to your company is an amateur mistake.

In the end, you need to partner with a business phone service provider that gives you the best service and you need a system that maximizes your company revenue potential. A low quality phone system equals missed calls, frustrated customers and lost profit. VOIP is a system for the present and future but make sure you follow correct procedure before welcoming it on board.



Source by [lakajira]

Business Plan for Small Business – Products and Services

Business people often overlook this important stage of the business plan process because they think it is clear and simple and slough it off. Wrong, wrong !! You not only have to know what products and services you want to offer, but also exactly what they are and in what price range you want to sell them. You also have to have an idea what you eventually want to sell in the future.

It isn't a simple process to secure products and it certainly isn't easy to establish prices. You want to be different, you want to stand out. There's no sense being the same as everyone else. Let's look at a couple of different businesses to better understand what I am talking about.

If you are operating a landscaping business ask yourself these questions:

  • How are you going to distinguish yourself from the competition?
  • Are you going to attack your competition with price – a bad idea in most cases – or by adding benefits for your customers?
  • What value-added benefits are you going to offer?
  • Are you going to offer a seasonal package of services or are you going to charge by the visit?
  • Are you going to include fertilizing and weed control together with lawn maintenance or are those services going to be extra?
  • Are products like fertilizer paid for separately?
  • Are you going to charge your customers the same price for fertilizer you pay or upcharge them?

By answering questions like these, you will be able to make decisions about what services you want to offer and what revenue streams you can expect to have once you are in operation. You need to identify your potential revenue streams because it is those streams that fuel your sales. The greater number of revenue streams you have, the greater chance you have to build your sales. You also need to know what services you are going to offer because you need to know what skills your employees require. If you aren't a certified 'this' or 'that', then you'll need to have someone on your team who is if it is a requirement.

Let's look at a clothing store. Say you have decided that you want to open a ladies' wear outlet in the local mall.

  • Are you going to carry accessories?
  • What about outerwear?
  • Are you going carry sportswear or business wear or both?
  • What is your price point?
  • Are you going to offer an alterations service?
  • Is it going to be in-house?
  • Are you going to charge for the service or include it in the price of purchases?

As you can see there is a lot of work to do. You must do your homework. You must be able to 'see' what is happening in your business BEFORE you open.

You also have to be aware of the potential changes in the marketplace throughout the year. Seasonal shifts in demand for products and services can be dramatic. Summer sales can be good or poor. Maybe you operate in a college town and from June through September the population base tumbles. March break can be a boom or bust depending upon where your business is located.

Once you have a good handle on your products and services, you will be able to better forecast your sales – you'll have your revenue streams – and you'll be able to forecast your cost of goods sold because you'll know where you are buying things from and how much you are paying for them. It is all about projections for your financial forecast.



Source by [lakajira]

Do You Really Know What Business Marketing Is?

There are countless books and courses on marketing and how to do it properly. You’ve probably read or attended some yourself. But, do you feel like you have a good grasp of marketing?

Do you fully understand all the processes involved and how to best apply them to your company? When all the cards are on the table, most small-to-medium businesses don’t. Or at the very least, they understand these concepts.

What Is Business Marketing?

Everything a business does, everything you do to sell products and services – is marketing. Every decision you make, if it’s about how to put your products or services in the hands of consumers, is business marketing.

The foundations of marketing are relatively easy to explain and understand. But mastering these essential concepts can mean the difference between success and failure.

You don’t have to micromanage all marketing that your business does. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to hire a professional. However, that doesn’t replace the need to have a solid knowledge of marketing strategy. Business owners should always have a proactive role in their company’s marketing tactics.

Essential Components of a Good Marketing Strategy

Not all marketing concepts will apply to every business. Some will be more relevant than others, but as an entrepreneur you should be familiar with all of them.

Inbound Marketing

Think of inbound marketing as your workhorse.

It’s a set of marketing tactics designed to maintain a steady influx of customers into your sales process. This isn’t about pushing your brand to generate leads or direct conversion.

Inbound marketing uses various channels in creative ways to reach as many people as possible. Tools such as SEO optimization and social media channels are ideal for this type of marketing. The goal is to drive high volumes of quality traffic that can convert through brand engagement in the long run.

Direct Marketing

If inbound marketing is your workhorse, think of direct marketing as your racehorse.

Direct marketing includes sales tactics designed to produce an instant response. Things like calls to action in online or broadcast media fall into this category.

Regardless of what else you do, direct marketing is an important part of any marketing strategy. It allows you to instantly measure success or failure based on response rates.

Knowing how people are responding to one offering versus another is crucial.

Outbound Marketing

This is where the rubber really meets the road.

In outbound marketing, you’re reaching out to prospects and basically saying “buy from me.” This is typically what people think of when they hear the word marketing.

Outbound marketing includes sales calls, print ads, broadcast ads, door-to-door sales and much more. Any activity in which you’re reaching out to potential customers with an offering figures into this definition.

Though a staple in countless marketing strategies, it’s not very effective. It’s hard to figure out if it’s really working and people are getting savvier and blocking the majority of this type of marketing.

Content Marketing

This is the new-old way to market.

Most smart businesses realize that people are OK with marketing, as long as they get something in return. For example, if you create great content, consumers will be happy to hear from you.

Therefore, every channel you have should start by giving value in return for your customers’ attention.

Social Media Marketing

It is inescapable, omnipresent, and pervasive.

Marketing is about getting attention. If you can’t get people’s attention, you have no one to market to.

The biggest attention vacuums nowadays are social media platforms. It goes without saying that any marketing strategy that doesn’t include social media, is off to a bad start.

Start with Solid Foundations

Each of these components has its own place in the puzzle. Some may be more important to your business than others. But only by understanding them all can you find your way out of the marketing madness.

Don’t be a passive business owner. Take charge of your marketing strategies and stop wasting resources on marketing that doesn’t deliver.



Source by [lakajira]

BEST BUSINESS IDEAS – How Starting a Networking Services Company Can Build Your Success

Finding the best business ideas doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend a ton of money. In fact, there are quite a few excellent options that can allow you to start a new business with little or even no money at all. One promising option is to start a networking services company. Don't worry; you don't need to know anything about computers. It's not that type of networking.

A networking services company is essentially a firm that specializes in helping local business owners and entrepreneurs connect with one another. Chances are good your local chamber of commerce sponsors similar events throughout the month, but you can take things several steps further if you like.

Where your local Chamber of Commerce's networking meetings are likely broadly attended by business owners in a wide range of industries, your business can offer focused, targeted networking. Fostering relationships between business owners and entrepreneurs in related verticals helps ensure that your meeting attendees are able to leverage those relationships to the utmost.

You can do other things as well. For instance, you might be able to help locals in your area find work by sponsoring an after-work mixer or a similar gathering. You might be able to organize workshops that focus on networking and building strong ties from one business to another.

So, how do you make money with this type of business? It's simple, charge admission. You'll need to ensure that your fees are enough to cover the rental cost for the venue (you can start out with lower-scale, more cost-efficient venues and then work your way up to hotels and more expensive options). You should also ensure that you're making enough to cover the costs of any food and drink served. Of course, if you're hosting your mixer at a local hotel's bar or restaurant, you can afford to charge a lower admission fee if your attendees purchase their own food and drinks.

All you'll need to get started is a computer and a phone line. However, you'll encounter fees in the production of your marketing, and you'll also need insurance to be legal, so don't forget those costs. In the end, this can be a very lucrative business, particularly if you've got good people skills and love to help others connect with one another. The low start-up cost is also attractive.

There are many businesses that you can tomorrow. All you need is the determination to try and the drive to succeed.



Source by [lakajira]

Promote Your Products and Services With Plastic Business Cards

Business cards have been used as an effective means to advertise your products and services. It also acts as the best information channel among business communities and the public. Whether you represent a budding business or own an already established business entity, plastic business cards have given a strong and solid method to expose a newer, long lasting and strong method to make a never-ending relationship with the receiver and his concerned business identity.

Recently, there has been a considerable raise in the use of plastic business cards. A common plastic card has now turned into a visually outstanding and impeccable marketing tool that storms the business world with stride.

Being durable and stable, plastic business card works magically to give a brand entity to a company's individuality and long term vision in new and exciting manner. What makes it more eye-catching is the friendly color combination with tinted formats. These cards are extremely creative pieces that give a clear brand name and image building.

Today, the format of business cards looks almost like a credit card as it has high value and chances are that customers will preserve it as a memento of a fruitful association. Being a value-added tool, plastic cards influence a lot and affect the channels of marketing as well. Thus, it is not wrong to say plastic cards hold the real value and they can work wonderfully for laying a bridge of trust and commitment with targeted customers.

No wonder, plastic cards are turned into an aggressive marketing strategy that extends far further than mere a piece of card that holds the crucial information.



Source by [lakajira]

5 Reasons To Use Digital Marketing Services To Transform Your Business

If e-paper has replaced newspaper in your home then don’t feel guilty about it. You are not alone; in some years this will be a norm everywhere. It is primarily because of the penetration of internet services, high-end smartphones in remote corners of the world and cheap accessibility. Most of the action takes place in the online space and this is why it has become a common hunting ground for businesses at large.

Decoding Digital Marketing

Marketing is not merely an attempt to sell products or services but an integrated process aimed at creating a predefined impact. It is a strong influencing force that can transform a business. So, experts stress on the growing importance of digital marketing in shaping a business for maximum gain. There is a swelling number of internet users and this provides ample scope for a business – new as well as existing ones, for market attention and convert it to tangible gains.

Here’s Why Digital Marketing Is Not An Option But Compulsory For Every Business

Digital marketing is a staple strategy for every business aiming to make it a noted venture in the respective industry. The process flows through several channels and uses a number of tools to accomplish the desired goal. It is specifically goal-oriented and you can see the results in lesser time than traditional marketing methods. Here are some of the most important reasons for relying on it for a successful business.

  • Concrete analysis and adaptation: In digital marketing, user activities are monitored to arrive on a concrete data about the targeted group. Real-time data that gets updated from time to time; it enables more accurate analysis. This makes it most effective in predicting market trends and adapting to the changes.
  • Unhindered communication: There are several barriers of communication, in traditional marketing processes which can hinder the transmission of messages to your target group. However, digital marketing communication does not encounter such hindrances because it is direct and engage customers for undivided attention.
  • Customized content: Based on the data, communication strategists decide on messages which can be easily understood by consumers, meet their demands or resolve their problems and direct them to purchase the products or services.
  • Customer tracking: Digital marketing services target individual customers by identifying them through the device they use and their demography. The analytics are used to predict customer preferences, behaviours and predict their actions. It tracks customers from their initial interaction to end sales.
  • Dynamic approach: It uses real-time data, reaches the maximum possible customer pool, provides an immediate workable solution and aids in easy sales. This dilutes the time-lapse between each procedure and encourages more consumer engagement and sales.

Digital marketing offers you easy and unmatched solutions to overcome some critical marketing challenges. This has become all the more relevant because of intensifying market competition and penetrating use of technology. Digital marketing services are leveraging business like never before.



Source by [lakajira]

Can I Use An Incorporation Service For My Business? Probably

If you are starting a small business or you are thinking of incorporating your existing business or forming an LLC, you may have seen banners and advertising for an online incorporation service. And if you have, you've probably wondered just how good these services are. Can incorporating online save you attorney fees? If you set up a corporation through an online incorporation service, will it be legal in your state? Could you save even more by buying a book about how to form a corporation or LLC and doing everything yourself instead of using an online incorporation service? These are very logical and common questions that will be addressed in this article.

If you do a search on the internet for incorporation service or some similar search term, you will get a multitude of results from all over the world. Many will be an incorporation service for a particular state; some will incorporate your business in any state; while others will offer an incorporation service for offshore locales. You will also see a great variance on total fees charged for this incorporation service which now tend to be more competitive.

You can complete the filing yourself, or utilize the services of an attorney or an incorporation service provider. Using an attorney is the most expensive, but typically doesn't require much of your time. Hiring an attorney is not necessary by any means, but is recommended if you have an unusual situation or just don't feel comfortable doing it. If you need professional advice, by all means, consult an attorney and / or a professional accountant.

The various services offered by an incorporation service usually includes everything you need to form a new profit or non-profit Corporation or LLC. This generally includes name availability in your state, and also preparation of the articles of incorporation and other documents required by the state or offshore locale if you are going that route. The incorporation service will forward the documents to you for signature, and after they are returned to them, they file them with the appropriate Clerk of Court. You will receive the appropriate proof of filing from the state.

This self-incorporation service is not meant to circumvent or to cast dispersion from the value of obtaining professional help. While a lawyer can assist you complete the process, incorporating is not as expensive if an incorporation service is utilized.

If you do choose to incorporate your own business, using an online incorporation service will save you time and ensure that the forms get filled out properly and all the paperwork submitted in the proper way.

Many attorneys, accountants and business owners worldwide use an incorporation service simply for the ease, convenience, and speed. While a lawyer can assist you complete the process, incorporating is not as expensive if an incorporation service is utilized. Since so many businesses opt for incorporating online, the companies providing incorporation service is growing rapidly. I have also used an incorporation service in the past and was very satisfied, both from a cost standpoint and ease of use.

In general, forming a corporation can have a positive effect on your clients or customers. They tend to have more of a comfort factor dealing with a professional corporation. So, if you want to form a new corporation or incorporate an existing business, and you aren't aware of any unusual circumstances, then by all means, use an incorporation service.



Source by [lakajira]

Interested in Information Technology Services for Your Business? Learn About Virtual IT Services

Virtual IT or virtual information technology is a service offered by some information technology (IT) consulting firms. Just like companies that offer virtual service for work like billing, accounting, customer service and administrative tasks, it is also possible to hire firms that provide virtual service for technology related work. While virtual IT service is used by businesses and organizations of all sizes, it is more typically favored by small and growing companies that may not be interested in or able to hire full-time employees for an information technology department.

Companies that hire a virtual IT service typically have access to all of the standard information technology services that one may expect from an in-house IT department but the work is completed by an outside consulting firm and staff members are typically located off site. Some of the benefits of using a virtual IT service include the fact that it is generally less expensive than hiring full-time employees (FTEs) and it is also easier to change underperforming contract agencies than it is to hire, fire and train new FTEs.

Sometimes companies that hire virtual IT services for things like software development and web design also have full-time IT employees that can act as liaisons, primary points of contact and even project managers for the IT consulting firm providing the technology services. Other times a web development firm's virtual IT service may do the work necessary to cover all of a company's information technology needs.

If you are thinking about hiring an information technology company to provide you with virtual IT services, when you are interviewing tech firms, there are some important questions you should ask to make sure that your experience is as positive and productive as possible. Here are four important questions you should ask any web consulting firm you are considering for virtual IT services:

1. How much do you understand my business or industry? What will you do to learn more about my business or industry? Good virtual IT services are in many ways based on having a very solid understanding of a particular business and industry. Information technology often involves anticipating technical challenges and problems before they happen and many potential challenges are only identifiable if a person has a clear understanding of company operations, industry and market drivers and trends, current and future goals, and past and present challenges. Making sure that a company offering virtual IT services has a commitment to understanding your business and industry is an extremely important part of hiring a great tech partner.

2. How accessible are you? How and when can I reach you? Are there times that you are not reachable? Even though your brick and mortar business or organization might not be open 24/7, if you have a web presence, you have a 24/7 business by default. While the day to day communication flow between your company and a virtual IT firm may be somewhat predictable, chances are you will need open and varied access to your information technology support. It is very important for you to understand a tech company's process for handling calls, change requests, problems, emergencies, questions, and any other type of need you might have while working with them. To offer top quality service, providers of virtual IT need to be widely accessible and dependable.

3. What is your communication process like? How do you keep people in the loop with status updates, progress reports and with more general day to day or weekly issues? Great communication meaning clear, concise and to the point, may be the biggest differentiator between good and great technology service. It is important for you to understand a consulting agency's process for keeping you updated about how things related to your information technology needs are going.

4. How does your pricing structure work? What do your fees cover? What things are not covered by your fees? Are there any hidden fees I should know about? Pricing for virtual IT services varies considerably from less than a thousand a month to thousands of dollars a week. It is helpful to choose an information technology company that is economical and efficient. Make sure you understand all of the billing details related to the service. The cost savings you thought you would realize by using an IT consulting service can quickly diminish with unexpected fees. Make sure you have a very clear understanding of any information technology company's pricing structure.

Hiring an IT consulting agency to provide your company or organization with virtual IT services can be a great business decision. Not only can virtual IT services save you time and money but they also may provide you with much greater access to technical resources than would be possible if you were hiring full-time employees to do the work.



Source by [lakajira]

5 Reasons Why Outsourced Services Build Your Business

Technology has paved the way for small businesses and medium businesses to tap into outsourcing as a strategic tool to make a powerful impact on their productivity and growth. A common mistake of most entrepreneurs who happen to have great talents is thinking they can do it all. Don't make this mistake as it can stall the growth of your business. Here are 5 outsourcing reasons that you should consider outsourcing as a great strategic move to improve your business.

Because of task overload

Daily back office tasks can take much of your time that can lead you away from focusing on how to generate more income. With so many tasks to do in so little time, consider getting an extra "virtual" hand through outsourced services . There are online outsourced services and crowd sourcing marketplaces such as Odesk.com, Freelancer.com, eLance, and others enable you to get competent virtual workers such as virtual assistant from across the globe.

Because you want to be more efficient

Two heads are definitely better than one more than ever at work. Doing it all may lead to frustration and cost you your time, effort, and resources. By hiring skilled virtual workers and outsourced services , you are able to select your team member based on his or her strength as a web developer, accountant, bookkeeper, writer, transcriber, editor, graphic designer, project manager, or virtual assistant.

Because you hold yourself back

Nobody is perfect especially when it comes to managing a business all by yourself. There will be times when you find yourself stuck at a writer's block or worst, paralysis by analysis. Over analysing things is an obstacle to achieve completion of certain task. Outsourced services workers may have a different perspective and thus can give you a run for your money. Enlist the expertise of outsourced services to boost the development of your business instead of being paralysed with fear, doubt, or over analysis.

Because you want to save more money

Let's face it. Hiring outsourced services can bring more value to your hard earned money. Simply because their hourly rate is much cheaper compared to, for example, native workers. Outsourcing relatively ensures that the best contractor offer commercial activities at the lowest possible cost.

Because you need to share the risks and rewards

Partnership goes a long way such as in the case of outsourced services. The employer and virtual assistant work towards the same goal given that both have the same vested interest of producing satisfactory results.

Initiating your first baby steps toward outsourcing can be a little time consuming but can reap sustaining growth over time. Follow the same process when hiring outsourced services where you exercise your judgment in selecting the right virtual worker. Outsourcing can assist you on recruiting your own band of skilled professionals ready to take on the job.



Source by [lakajira]

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